The dark, twisted pop-punk of Alkaline Trio is the outcome of its equally talented members. Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano and Derek Grant all bring something unique to the table. Skiba produces the dark lyrics and simplicity, Andriano adds the timeliness and range while Grant, whose lead vocals are absent from Trio albums, contributes the textures and added rhythmic spice. Whether they’re together or on their own, they’re making great music. Here’s our playlist of the best songs from each artist’s new solo album for this list.
“Holiday Breakdown” – Derek Grant
The first song off of Breakdown is a nice, quick introduction to Derek Grant as a solo artist. His songwriting talents (much different than his drumming style) are straightforward and excel in sounding like they’re from another era. Everything from the vocal effects to the raw recording helps shape his music. It’s not supposed to sound modern and polished, but a song you’d play on a jukebox at a dive bar to fit in just fine with the locals and old punks, alike.
“Lost” – Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room
The distorted bass and looped drum beat for the first half of this song makes this track stick out among the pack. When it goes back into full-band rock mode, the melody and lyrics hit that much harder when they’re reintroduced in a different, heavier way. The Beach Boys-inspired choir harmonies are just a cherry on top of the already awesome sonic sundae. The taste, the experience, the production and the musicianship is all there. This guy is just really good and ,paired with the right people, continues to do amazing work.
“Good Long Look” – Derek Grant
As a big Ryan Adams fan, this song stuck out to me immediately. Not only is Grant’s voice reminiscent of Adam’s, but the alt-country guitar work reminds me of something right off of a Whiskeytown album. It’s short and catchy enough to play over and over. I think this is the direction his voice was made for, considering it’s much different than his bandmates’ vocal styles.
“She Wolf” – Matt Skiba and the Sekrets
This song is the epitome of the Skiba sound. Hooky, simple guitar lines, big polished power chords and undeniably catchy choruses. The minor melodies are uplifted with the major payoff in the choruses, while the lyrics are still a bummer in the best way. “Now I’m restless / here in pieces / and I’m waiting for relief / that just won’t come anytime soon for this vampire / twisting in the fire.” If anyone else tried to use that line, it would sound so cheesy, but Skiba has the successful career to back it up and make it work flawlessly.
“Wait” – Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room
My favorite parts of Andriano’s music are his soulful voice and the expansive melodies that are a nice departure from the four-chord pop punk people are used to hearing. When he sings something, you want to pay attention. When he plays something, you want to pick up a guitar and play along. The ear candy on this entire album is amazing with organs and cool bass lines thrown around tastefully. This track is the best song to showcase that. It’s a similar style, but a bit more modern and actualized version of the Derek Grant songs.
“I Just Killed To Say I Love You” – Matt Skiba and the Sekrets
Leave it to Skiba to compose what should be the music of a love song that instead slaps you in the face with lyrics about hoping someone dies and meets you in Hell. When read out of context, the lyrics could be used in a death-metal song (I’d love to hear that version), but the oddly beautiful melody backs off the gas and lets his anger sink in an entirely different way. It sounds like it could be a really good b-side from Alkaline Trio’s Crimson, hitting that perfect spot between pop punk and gothy new wave—as he often does.
“My Human Being” – Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room
The slide guitar lead in the chorus of this song (although incredibly brief) is my favorite moment of the whole album. It just screams good taste and songwriting experience, aw well as a nod to Weezer. (I would be lying if I said that wasn’t the sole reason I’m including it on this list.) Obviously, the rest of the song is already great with the choppy clean guitar intro and fun verses. Party Adjacent as a whole, is great driving music so when I’m cruising around town, this is the song that gets me bobbing my head the most.
“Waiting For The End Of The World” – Derek Grant
The Replacements and Bruce Springsteen come to mind when jamming to this track. It’s definitely the feel-good hit of the album, the something played at the end of your favorite ‘80s movie where they explain what each character is up to these days. Really, imagine it that way and it makes perfect sense: fade to black and the credits roll. The hammering piano, guitar tone and reverb-y sound effects just seal the deal for its rock anthem status.
“Krazy” – Matt Skiba and the Sekrets
This song has all of the best components of the perfect ‘90s pop song. Thanks to the bouncy, hi-hat-driven beat and simple guitar work, Skiba’s melody is able to flow seamlessly throughout the song from the storytelling verses to every hook. If you imagine the Goo Goo Dolls covering this song it would make perfect sense. It’s apparent that Skiba’s sound, even when he shifts around between sub-genres, is always the closest to Alkaline Trio.